NEW DELHI: Two new super sleuths on Wednesday were tasked with heading India’s external and internal intelligence agencies, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), respectively.
While Samant Goel, in-charge of the operations desk at R&AW, will now head the agency, Arvind Kumar, currently handling IB’s Kashmir desk, will be its new boss. Both are IPS officers.
Goel was one of the key strategists of the February 26 Balakot air strike and the 2016 surgical strikes on terror bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, officials said.
A 1984 batch officer belonging to the Punjab cadre, Goel is said to have played a crucial role in handling Punjab militancy when it was at its peak in the 1990s.
Goel’s appointment comes nearly three months after India’s counter-attack on terror infrastructure in deep inside Pakistan’s Balakot that was carried out in the aftermath of Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. “R&AW had developed primary intelligence and was involved in choosing probable targets for the February air strikes. Goel was actively involved in the planning of both the strikes,” said a senior security official.
While Goel is known for his expertise on Pakistan, Kumar is a specialist on Kashmir and Naxalism. Both are trusted aides of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The appointments were made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. PM Narendra Modi is the chairman of the committee. A 1984 batch officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, Kumar has been closely involved in tackling Left-Wing extremism at the IB. At the height of the anti-Maoist operations, during the UPA II tenure, Kumar was in charge of the Bihar-Jharkhand- Chhattisgarh areas.
Goel and Kumar will take charge on June 29 and June 30, respectively, when the extended tenure of IB chief Rajiv Jain and R&AW secretary Anil K Dhasmana ends. Kumar was moved from Assam to IB early on in his career. After a stint as SP of Sonitpur, one of Assam’s largest districts, Kumar was given central deputation and never sent back.
He has spent the longest part of his career working for the IB. Kumar is a “dependable intelligence officer” especially when it comes to Kashmir and has been helping the government in its “no tolerance” approach in tackling terrorism in Kashmir which has seen a record 733 terrorists being killed in the last three years, said an official. Goel, on the other hand, spent a considerable part of his career in Punjab where he was posted to oversee security, intelligence and the border range.
His name had cropped up during the CBI infighting that involved its former director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana. Verma had alleged that Goel facilitated the deal between Moin Qureshi Qureshi and Asthana. Goel did not respond to the allegations and maintained a low profile throughout the fiasco.